"La Soledad," a film that symbolizes Venezuela's decline
Venezuelan filmmaker Jorge Thielen Armand says his film "La Soledad" does its bit to "create a dialogue about what is happening" in Venezuela," he told EFE Tuesday.
In his "opera prima," whose world premiere was at the last Venice Film Festival and is now showing at the Miami International Film Festival, this Canada-based director, 27, uses an old mansion occupied by people who seem to be without any future as a metaphor for the situation his country is going through.
The film speaks "directly to the crisis," and, according to Thielen Armand, lets viewers feel the burden and hopelessness of his characters' problems.
The Miami Film Festival planned to show the film just once, on Monday, June 6, at the city's Tower Theater, but afterwards announced another showing for next Saturday because of the many disappointed moviegoers who were unable to get in to see it.
In an interview with EFE, the young director said he was "excited" because the Venezuelan community is such an important part of this city that the Miami Film Fest is like a screening back in the land of his birth.
The director wished to show the two different social classes, the upper class that once was and the perennial lower class, brought together by a common denominator: "the lack of what they need to live on."
He also emphasized that the upper class of other times has no relation to members of the present government.
"Those people (in the government) live in their own world with a lot of money," the director said, adding that Venezuela is going through a "really hard time."
"La Soledad" takes its name and was shot at a villa where as a kid the director would spend the summer with his family.
Thielen Armand, who moved to Toronto as a teen in 2006, ran into a cousin of his on the beach while shooting his last short, "Flower of the Sea" (2015).
They talked about how they would spend the summer together in that old mansion in Venezuela called La Soledad, and recalled how they used to play with Jose, grandson of the family's housekeeper.
The family stopped going to La Soledad when his great-grandmother died, but now Thielen Armand felt an urge to go back and film the house "before it's no longer possible."
Unlike the Thielen family, the housekeeper's son Jose still lives there with his grandmother.
Thielen Armand's production team worked full speed ahead with just eight months from the time the Venice Biennial provided the funds for filming until he had to deliver the finished movie.
The whole experience for Thielen Armand was a way to "explore those memories once more" and his "identity as a Venezuelan emigrant" after taking off for Montreal, where he studied, then to live awhile in Florida before settling in Toronto.
With a lack of food and medicine as the background of a drama that unfolds in slow motion, and with characters that appear to be paralyzed by the kind of "inertia" that has overtaken Venezuela, they nonetheless dream of finding a happiness that never appears.